Stennis Fellows Visit USS STENNIS At Sea
The 112th Congress Stennis Fellows embarked on the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) aircraft carrier for an overnight visit off the coast of San Diego in August 2011 as the ship was departing for deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Coming near the beginning of their fellowship, the trip provided Stennis Fellows an opportunity to get to know each other as they experienced an exhilarating glimpse into life at sea on one of America’s greatest national security assets.
Stennis Fellows arrived on board STENNIS via a flight on a C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft designed to deliver mail and supplies to-and-from aircraft carriers. They were greeted by Captain Ronald Reis, Commanding Officer of the USS STENNIS and spent the next 24 hours exploring in depth the various departments on the vast ship that carries a crew of over 5,000 including the air wing. Stennis Fellows stood on the 4.5-acre flight deck as fighter jets were launched by steam-powered catapults that send jets airborne within 2 to 4 seconds. They also observed landings on the other end of the deck as jets used tail hooks to catch one of four cables strung across the deck to safely return to the aircraft carrier.
Stennis Fellows were awed by the size, technology and power of the ship, but they were most inspired by the dedication and efficiency of the crew in carrying out the ship’s mission. The Stennis Fellows learned about the life, values and culture unique to those who serve the nation on aircraft carriers. They were amazed to learn that the average age of crew is 19. The impact of leadership was evident throughout the USS STENNIS. Fellows remarked after the embark that leadership lessons learned through their interaction with the crew provided a lasting value as they reflected on applications to their work on Capitol Hill.
There are many good memories and insights gained from the 112th Congress Stennis Fellows program, but for those who participated the embark on the USS STENNIS, that experience will be a lasting impression of their time together.